Legal & Regulatory
OTT, VOIP Regulations Recommended
Last week, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) released a report on net neutrality that contains recommendations that could impact over-the-top content (OTT) and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service providers, such as Skype, Viber and WhatsApp. The DoT recommended that the government allow OTT messaging services, text messages sent via the internet, to continue unimpeded, but suggested that VoIP calls, calls made over the internet, should be regulated. Specifically, the DoT has advised the government to regulate domestic VoIP calls.
By Nishant Dixit
India’s Companies Amendment Act of 2015, effective May 26, updates the previous 2013 amendment with new provisions designed to improve ease of doing business. It addresses issues such as incorporation, corporate governance and management of subsidiaries. Provisions that will affect foreign companies doing business in the country are discussed below.
Incorporation and Business Commencement
Incorporation processes have become much easier under the amendment.
The 2013 law required minimum paid-up capital of up to INR 0.1 million (US$ 1,572) for private companies and INR 0.5 million (US$ 7,862) for public companies. These requirements have been removed completely; no initial capital will be required to incorporate a private or a public limited company.
ITR Form Simplified Before New August 31 Filing Date
The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) last week simplified the Income Tax Retun (ITR) form and delayed the filing date from July 31 to August 31. Expatriates and Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) will no longer have to report foreign assets as previously planned. Furthermore, previous plans to require taxpayers to submit foreign travel itinerary and additional bank account information have been relaxed by the government.
CBDT Creating Online PAN Database for Taxpayers
The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), the Income Tax Department’s administrative and policy-making body, is creating an online permanent account number (PAN) database for taxpayers. Tentatively called the ‘Income Tax Business Application’, the database will use PAN numbers to allow tax authorities to access tax related information for persons or entities that pay income tax in India.
Opening a Bank Account to Become Easier
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on June 11 revised the list of documents that can be used as proof of identity and address to open a bank account. Following an amendment to the Prevention of Money Laundering (Maintenance of Records) Rules, 2005, the RBI notified banks across India that the following documents may now be used as proof of identity or address:
NGO Regulations May Tighten Further
According to local media, the Prime Minister’s Office has instructed the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to tighten regulations on non-governmental organizations (NGOs. The reports state that the MHA has been asked to amend aspects of the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA) to ensure that NGOs report foreign financing within 48 hours of receipt. The reports also claim that the MHA is exploring different ways to audit NGOs and make their financial information public. If enacted, these reforms would significantly increase the compliance requirements of foreign financed NGOs
I-T Expanding Tax Collection Efforts in Tier-II Cities
The Income Tax Department plans to expand its tax collection activities in Tier II cities, such as Jaipur in Rajasthan state, Indore in Madhya Pradesh state and Vishakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh state. The initiative follows a directive from the federal government to increase the number of taxpayers in the country by 2.5 million individuals and entities every month.
The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), the Income Tax Department’s administrative and policymaking body, found that the gap between the actual number of taxpayers and potential number of taxpayers was widest in the country’s rapidly growing Tier-II cities. Income Tax and CBDT officials quoted in the media report that authorities will not use adversarial or intrusive measures to expand tax collection.